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NEW COVER STORY...TGS 2020 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW!

by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

For a couple of simple reasons, we have come to value the upcoming NFL Draft more than ever, as it remains the highlight off offseason business in pro football, which has been about the only sporting enterprise largely unaffected by the current national shutdown. Let’s hope that our annual TGS Draft preview is a commencement of 2020 gridiron coverage that, cross our fingers, can resume as normal later in the summer.

Following are our team updates, revolved around offseason developments and first-round draft projections, and our predicted selections, noted in bold italics. As always, trades can alter draft order, but for the moment this is how we believe things might proceed as of Monday, April 6. Remember, this year’s draft will be held Thursday, April 23 thru Saturday, April 25.


1-CINCINNATI BENGALS...Cincy was a bit more active than usual in the offseason, throwing around money in an unaccustomed fashion in free agency. Among the highlight additions are CB Trae Waynes (ex-Vikings) & DT D.J. Reader (ex-Texans), while Mike Brown must have winced further as opened his wallet for a big bucks re-sign of WR A.J. Green, possessor of an acknowledged home run dimension but whose durability is in question after recent injury woes. Whatever, the Bengals were not about to sit on their hands as usual after recording the franchise’s worst-ever record (2-14) and with a roster full of holes. Still on the books as of early April remains vet QB Andy Dalton, yet to be moved in a trade but unlikely to be on the roster in summer. The obvious selection at the top of the draft is LSU’s Heisman-winning QB Joe Burrow, and Ohio product to boot. This might not be hermetically- sealed, however, as there were whispers that burrow was not excited about enlisting at Paul Brown Stadium, and the Bengals are at least listening to trade offers. Expect the defensive front, especially on the edge, to generate some attention shortly after settling the QB situation. We highly doubt Cincy moves off of the top spot, or from Burrow, but the tad of speculation adds just a bit of mystery in the run-up to April 23. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

2-WASHINGTON REDSKINS...The Skins moved quickly in their latest re-boot in the offseason, inking ex-Panthers HC Ron Rivera to pick up the pieces from the derailed Jay Gruden (and Bill Callahan) era while owner Dan Snyder finally hit the eject button on long-serving team prexy Bruce Allen as well. For a time it looked as if a reunion between Rivera and his old Carolina QB, Cam Newton, was in the cards; Rivera tapped the Panthers, alright, but instead landed Kyle Allen, who flourished for a while last season after Newton went down. Allen also reunites with Carolina o.c. Scott Turner, though for the moment it seems as if Rivera is comfy with 2nd-year ex-Ohio State Dwayne Haskins, who performed with occasional flair down the stretch in his maiden voyage. The secondary got a new look in free agency, especially on the corners where Kendall Fuller (ex-Chiefs) & Ron Darby (ex-Eagles) were added, but there have been few upgrades yet on offense, which are likely addressed in the draft. The chance to pluck an impact edge rusher like Ohio State’s Chase Young in the 2-hole, however, might be too tempting to bypass. Still, expect the Skins, who might covet extra picks, to receive plenty of enquiries about their first-round slot. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

3-DETROIT LIONS... Even before the coronavirus hit, they were nervous at Ford Field, where franchise matriarch Martha Ford has swung her axe indiscriminately in the past. In the end, Matthew Stafford’s injury last fall provided HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn a convenient mulligan, but another playoff miss is unlikely to grant a further stay of execution, especially after Patricia threw several assistants under the bus. Getting Stafford healthy is obviously going to be key in the fall, but Quinn has spent much of the offseason trying to bolster a defense that has been woefully short of playmakers. Even after adding potential starters at every level of the platoon (Danny Shelton & Nick Williams at DT, Jamie Collins at LB, and CB Desmond Trufant & S Duran Harmon in the secondary), playmakers are still needed badly on the stop end. And after disgruntled CB Darius Slay was offloaded to the Eagles, Quinn would be awfully tempted to take the acknowledged top corner on the board, Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. Quinn is also likely to receive plenty of calls about the third pick if rumors about Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa getting lots of interest prove to be true. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

4-NEW YORK GIANTS... Interestingly, Bob Tisch and John Mara decided to give GM Dave Gettleman one more chance to get the G-Men back on course while forcing HC Pat Shurmur to walk the plank after two disappointing seasons. More pressure, then, on Gettleman than new HC Joe Judge (the latest Bill Belichick disciple to get a head coaching shot) for an overdue course correction this fall. Gettleman mostly went after defense in free agency, inking CB James Bradberry (ex-Panthers) and ILB Blake Martinez (ex-Packers) to pricey deals, while also enlisting another from the Pack, OLB Kyler Fackrell, and slapping the franchise tag on DE Leonard Williams. More playmakers are still needed on the stop end, however, so continuing the focus on defense in the draft would be no surprise. The keys to the O have been given to 2nd-year QB Daniel Jones, who flashed plenty of upside after moving out Eli Manning last fall, while RB Saquon Barkley appears poised for a bust-out campaign in his third year in a new-look attack now coordinated by ex-Cowboys HC Jason Garrett. Gettleman will also likely be tempted by several trade offers from QB-hungry teams desperate to have a chance to get nab either Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

5-MIAMI DOLPHINS... With a treasure-trove of draft picks (14 overall, including three first-rounders), the Dolphins are for once in an enviable position. It is obvious that Miami is looking for a long-term answer at QB, and speculation is rife that Dolphins GM Chris Grier might not want to risk waiting until this fifth spot and possibly risk losing out on Bama’s Tua Tagovailoa (or, maybe, Oregon’s Justin Herbert). So, “moving up” would not surprise anyone. Grier has already been busy in the offseason, using his bountiful cap room to bolster the defense with ex-Cowboys CB Byron Jones (the highest-price FA to this moment), ex-Patritos LB Kyle Van Noy, and ex-Bills DE Shaq Lawson, plus help out in the trenches with ex-Redskins G Ereck Flowers. Grier was also in the market for a RB and reportedly made a run at the Rams’ Todd Gurley before adding Jordan Howard from the Eagles. Grier is not likely done wheeling and dealing as there is real optimism for the first time in a few years after the late-season rally for first-year HC Brian Flores last December. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

6-LOS ANGELES CHARGERS... The Philip Rivers era officially ended for the Bolts when their long-serving pitcher walked to the Colts in free agency. Though after Rivers struggled mightily a year ago with 20 picks, we’re not sure how much he will be missed. For the moment, word is that the Chargers are content to let holdover Tyrod Taylor act as a bridge to a high-profile rookie QB, though rumors continue to circulate that the Bolts could opt for still on-the-market Cam Newton as a short-term fix while whatever rookie (Oregon’s Justin Herbert?) watches and learns for a year or two. After all, the Chargers were decimated by injuries last year and believe they could make a quick recovery to playoff contention as they move into the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood minus much of a local fan base, which could present some optics even more embarrassing for the league than the past three years at the temporary MLS venue in Carson that was constantly overrun by visiting fans. The Bolts made some serious moves in free agency, luring CB Chris Harris from AFC West-rival Denver and adding a possible anchor on the OL in ex-Packer G Bryan Bulaga, and making sure to keep TE Hunter Henry in-house. All of which suggest the Chargers aren’t looking at 2020 as a rebuild year. At the top, however, it’s finally time to identify the long-term successor to Rivers. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

7-CAROLINA PANTHERS... It’s a different look for the Panthers, who cleaned house for anxious new owner David Tepper, who for a moment seemed ready to fire everyone he could (even michael Jordan) in Charlotte. New faces include a college feel on the sideline with HC Matt Rhule lured from Baylor, bringing along d.c. Phil Snow from Waco, and o.c. Joe Brady fresh from designing the LSU offense that took college football by storm last fall. That all preceded an effective roster clear-out that dumped a lot of high-priced vets (including QB Cam Newton) onto the market and added some up-and-comers to various short and lower-priced deals. The highest profile of those was enticing QB Teddy Bridgewater from the Saints in a 3-year deal worth $63 mill, a fair price if Bridgewater delivers as he did when filling in for Drew Brees last year. Meanwhile, WR Robby Anderson could prove a useful addition from the Jets. A contract situation to watch will involve RB Christian McCaffrey, nearing the end of his rookie deal and looking for a big-bucks extension from GM Marty Hurney, who must figure that eventual price tag into the rebuild. For the moment, however, expect Hurney to pay extra attention to a suspect defense, especially along the line, in the draft. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

8-ARIZONA CARDINALS... After clearing a relatively-low bar a year ago, HC Kliff Kingsbury will be expected to contend for a playoff berth this fall after some shrewd offseason maneuvering by GM Steve Keim, who heisted All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins out of Houston to give 2nd-year QB Kyler Murray a top-end target in the pro version of Kingsbury’s Texas Tech spread. Keim also filled some pressing defensive holes in free agency by signing ex-Bills DT Jordan Phillips, ex-Lions OLB Devon Kennard, and ex-Falcons OLB De’Vondre Campbell. Now, the Big Red can pick and choose in the draft and could be tempted to trade down. Though, after focusing on defense in free agency, Keim will likely want to help out Kingsbury & Murray by doing some fortifying along the offensive front. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

9-JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS... Perhaps speaking to his polarizing presence, team prexy Tom Coughlin was forced to walk the plank last December after reports of numerous grievances leveled against the team by the NFLPA made keeping him untenable, even for another day. Surprisingly that appeared to spare HC Doug Marrone and GM Dave Caldwell, but mustachioed owner Shad Khan will not be in any mood to grant another reprieve to his HC-GM combo if they can’t get back to the playoffs after a pair of bad misses the past two years. Hard against the cap, Caldwell was unable to spend big in free agency, though he shed enough salary (including QB Nick Foles) to create space to ink TE Tyler Eifert (ex-Bengals) & LB Joe Schobert (ex-Browns) on modest deals. Apparently, Marrone is going to hand over the offense to 2nd-year QB Gardner Minshew, who briefly became a cult hero last fall before his performance leveled, though there are rumors that Cam Newton could be on the Jags’ radar. In the meantime a once-robust defense has been depleted by offloading disgruntled stars such as Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler the past two seasons and will likely target a Ramsey replacement at a corner spot in the early portion of the draft. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

10-CLEVELAND BROWNS... The merry-go-round continues to spin in Cleveland after last year’s Browns became one of the biggest false alarms since the Comet Kohoutek. After the ill-advised decision to entrust Freddie Kitchens to the HC role a year ago, ex-Vkings o.c. Kevin Stefanski becomes the Brownies’ fourth HC since the 2018 season. Meanwhile, 32-year-old Andrew Berry has become the youngest GM in NFL history as beleaguered owner Jimmy Haslam follows in the footsteps of another Cleveland non-legend, long-ago NBA Cavs owner Ted Stepien. Stepanski’s first challenge will be to instill some discipline on a squad that had far too little of it a year ago and still might have too many big personalities in the clubhouse. It’s an important season for 3rd-year QB Baker Mayfield, who didn’t progress as hoped a year ago; perhaps having newly-signed vet Case Keenum in a backup role can provide some guidance. Berry provided some help in free agency by landing OT Jack Conklin (ex-Titans) & TE Austin Hooper (ex-Falcons) in a pair of high-priced FA deals. With the status of suspended Myles Garrett still up in the air, expect Berry to address the DE spot in the draft, but after adding a new right tackle (Conklin) to protect Mayfield, a bountiful collection of available left tackles provides a chance to give Mayfield his desired quality bookends up front. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

11-NEW YORK JETS... If HC Adam Gase is going to survive into a third season at the helm of the J-Men in 2021, he needs to provide more help for QB Sam Darnold, who cannot flourish if under siege as he was a year ago. To that end, GM Joe Douglas did his best to upgrade the OL in free agency, with versatile ex-Broncos Connor McGovern an upgrade either at center )(his likely spot) or guard. Ex-Seahawks T George Fant and ex-Panthers G Greg Van Roten were also enlisted, but expect the OL revamp to be ongoing in the draft. Adding WR Breshad Perriman from the Bucs somewhat offsets Robby Anderson’s FA departure, but expect another target or two for Darnold to be identified in the draft, and upgrades on the corner are also likely. But if the OL restructure isn’t yet complete, Douglas picked the right draft to stock up on a quality collection of tackles. Jedrick Wills, Jr., OT, Alabama

12-LAS VEGAS RAIDERS... As the Silver & Black ready for their debut at new Allegiant Stadium, it’s also looking like a crossroads year for QB Derek Carr, who hasn’t been quite the same since his leg injury late in the 2016 campaign and has reportedly used up most of his nine cat-lives with HC Jon Gruden. In case Carr flounders, Marcus Mariota has been signed from the Titans in a backup role that has a ring of similarity to the role Ryan Tannehill played last term in Nashville when supplanting Mariota before midseason. Stay tuned. For the most part, Gruden and GM Mike Mayock addressed defense in free agency, with ex-Rams LB Cory Littleton the featured addition, though with Eli Apple’s deal having fallen though, the Raiders might still be in the market for a cornerback. Finding upgraded receiving targets for Carr (or Mariota) also appear high on the shopping list in Vegas, which unfortunately will have to wait a while before hosting a draft shindig after the expected big party on the Strip proved another casualty of the coronavirus. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

13-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (from Indianapolis)... For the most part, the Niners tried to keep the band together for another run at the ring after the bitter 4th Q vs. the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. GM John Lynch couldn’t keep everybody on the payroll, but was able to flip DT DeForest Buckner to the Colts for an extra choice in the top half of the first round. Along the way, Lynch was able to hold onto DE Arik Armstead, S Jimmie Ward, DE Ronald Blair III, and G Ben Garland, though the departures of Buckner and WR Emmanuel Sanders leaving for the Saints in free agency create a couple of gaping holes that Lynch is probably going to want to address in the early rounds of the draft. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

14-TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS... The Bucs have already authored the storyline of the NFL offseason when emerging from out of the pack to turn into a serious suitor for Tom Brady before completing the steal of Tom Terrific from the Patriots. Suddenly there is a buzz at Raymond James Stadium for the first time in more than a decade as thought of Brady passing to the likes of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in a Bruce Arians-designed offense have them salivating off of Dale Mabry Highway. (To top things off, Tampa Bay has new uniforms to boot!) Flying a bit under the radar in these circumstances was retaining DT Ndamaukong Suh, which had extra importance with the Bucs losing some front seven depth in free agency. But it’s the departure of RT Demar Dotson which could prompt the Bucs to look for an immediate replacement in the draft. Mekhi Becton, OT. Louisville

15-DENVER BRONCOS... John Elway has been active in the offseason but it remains to be seen if the Broncos have just been shuffling players or if they have made some real upgrades for 2nd-year HC Vin Fangio. On the surface, acquiring DT Jurell Casey from the Titans might only be a wash with Derek Wolfe leaving for the Ravens, while adding CB A.J. Bouye from the Jags merely fills the hole created by the move of Chris Harris to the Chargers. Ditto inking G Graham Glasgow from the Lions just as Connor McGovern was going out the door to the Jets. Meanwhile, spending $10 mill this season on ex-Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (whose holdout last fall did not pay off) looks a bit of an unnecessary luxury as an effective platoon-mate for Philip Lindsay, who has gained better than 1000 YR each of his first two years. We suspect Elway’s best move might have been enlisting the well-traveled Pat Shurmur as o.c. in place of the overmatched Rich Scangarello, which could accelerate 2nd-year QB Drew Lock’s progress. One area that the Broncos didn’t address in free agency was at WR, where a viable complement to Courtland Sutton could likely be identified in a deep class of incoming wideouts. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

16-ATLANTA FALCONS... After closing with a rush last December, the Falcons loom as an intriguing NFC darkhorse, more so after GM Tom Dimitroff (on the hot seat along with HC Dan Quinn) pulled off a couple of slick deals in the offseason, addressing the need for an edge rusher by signing Dante Fowler from the Rams while also tapping LA for RB Todd Gurley, who has been bit mysterious the past couple of years but still tantalizes in an offense that retains Pro Bowl-caliber quality at QB (Matt Ryan) & WR (Julio Jones). Meanwhile, trading with the Ravens for TE Hayden Hurst somewhat cushions the blow of Austin Hooper leaving town for Cleveland. Even with the addition of Fowler, Dimitroff is probably not done re-tooling his defense, which has been badly deficient in pressuring opposing QBs the past couple of years. K’Lavon Chaisson, LB, LSU

17-DALLAS COWBOYS... Reluctantly turning the page from the Jason Garrett era, Jerry Jones has had other things to worry about besides hiring ex-Packer HC Mike McCarthy to succeed Garrett. Without a ton of cap room, Jones had to let some key pieces (CB Byron Jones & DE Robert Quinn in particular) walk from his defense while committing extra resources to keep WR Amari Cooper and QB Dak Prescott satisfied, and making sure vet LB Sean Lee stayed in the fold. Cooper was re-signed and Prescott got a pricey franchise tag as Jones continues to work on an extension for the latter, all as a growing number of Dallas backers wonder if Prescott really is the guy to lead the Cowboys to the promised land. And is this roster really as close to Super Bowl quality as Jones believes? ‘Ol Jer was able to re-stock his D with some team-friendly deals that landed a couple of Panthers DTs, Gerald McCoy & Dontari Poe, plus S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Bears, though the best offseason addition might be ex-Ram Greg Zuerlein, who could solve what was a major problem area with PKs last fall. Upgrades are still necessary on the defensive edge and on the corners, areas in which Jones is likely to do some serious shopping in the early rounds of the draft. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

18-MIAMI DOLPHINS (from Pittsburgh)...Getting their second swing in the first round will be the Dolphins (also slotted at the 26th spot), which makes them a prime candidate to shuffle some picks, as we noted earlier. So we suspect a good chance that some other team will be queued up at 18 after Miami nabs a QB earlier in the round. After an active first round of free-agency, among the many areas the Dolphins are still looking for help is along the OL and at LT in particular after the Laremy Tunsil trade last season, and whomever is taking snaps in the fall might appreciate extra attention being paid to Tunsil’s old position. Note this pick comes via the Steelers as a result of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade last September. Austin Jackson, OT, USC

19-LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (from Chicago)... With five of their seven FA additions to date on the defensive side, it’s apparent that Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden believe their stop unit requires attention. But it’s the one signing that got away (CB Eli Apple) which likely influences Vegas decisions in the early rounds. We expect Mayock & Gruden to address the corner as well as the WR spots in the early going. Note that this pick, along with an extra third-rounder, are the final installments of the Khalil Mack trade with the Bears in 2018. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

20-JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (from LA Rams)... Some AFC South observers have not dismissed the possibility that the Jags might still be in the market for a QB with ex-Steeler Joshua Dobbs currently the only cover behind Gardner Minshew following the Nick Foles trade to the Bears. If GM Dave Gettleman looks for reinforcements in the draft rather than the remaining FA or thinned trade market, however, it might come in later rounds. The Jags have lost some star power on the stop end in recent years and could be looking for the edge presence they have lacked since dealing away Dante Fowler to the Rams in 2018. This pick is courtesy of another deal for the Rams that involved CB Jalen Ramsey last season. A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

21-PHILADELPHIA EAGLES... Injuries decimated the Birds’ receiving corps last season. And even though ex-U of Houston QB Greg Ward was serviceably heroic when filling in during the playoff drive last December, it is imperative for GM Howie Roseman to find some upgraded targets for Prince Harry-lookalike QB Carson Wentz, who is thankfully unencumbered by Meghan-like distractions. With an aging and injury-prone group of primary targets for Wentz, and having missed out on DeAndre Hopkins in the trade market, many NFC East observers believe Roseman has been focusing upon the draft and a deep collection of rookie wideouts for needed upgrades in the aerial game after no receiver caught more than 500 yards worth of passes last term. Another area requiring immediate attention in the secondary was more addressed in free agency by additions of CBs Darius Slay (trade with Lions) and Nickell Robey-Coleman (FA Rams), plus S Will Parks (FA Broncos). Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado

22-MINNESOTA VIKINGS (from Buffalo)... This is the first of what is currently a pair of later first-round selections for the Vikings, who have necessary capital to negotiate a higher slot in the first round if they wish. The objective is likely to be defensive reinforcements after age and salary constraints resulted in some not-insignificant culling on the stop end. But if GM Rick Spielman retains both of his picks in the opening round, he could be tempted to look for quality wideout opposite Adam Thielen after trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills, who returned this spot at 22 in compensation. While D figures to be the focus of much of the Minnesota draft, finding a bit of extra help for QB Kirk Cousins (who was recently inked to an extension) could prove a parallel objective. Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama

23-NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS... After two decades, the post-Tom Brady era begins in Foxborough, where the Bill Belichicks have understandably been involved in much of the pre-draft speculation. Among the chatter is if Belichick is really ready to commit to ex-Auburn and Baylor 2nd-year man Jarrett Stidham as the new QB, and if the Pats might be serious about a move up in the first round to identify a non-Stidham Brady successor. One of the more-intriguing rumors has Belichick angling for a chance to draft Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa after consulting with old chum Nick Saban, who apparently has given the thumbs-up to Tua. It seems as if Belichick is likely to make some sort of QB move after the recent release of Cody Kessler, which has left Stidham and recently-signed Brian Hoyer as the only pilots currently on the roster. Also from the rumor mill is possible interest in Cam Newton, maybe not as far-fetched as some would believe as the Pats have taken their chances with numerous diva-types in the past. Others believe Cincy’s Andy Dalton could still be in play at some point, though the Bengals have yet to release him onto the market as they apparently continue to seek a trade. While the post-Brady situation at QB generates the headlines, Belichick’s offense also badly missed Gronk a season ago and is in the market for an upgrade at TE as well. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame

24-NEW ORLEANS SAINTS... After cornering the market on gut-wrenching playoff exits the past three seasons, the Saints appear to be gearing up for one more run with most of the same cast of characters that forged back-to-back 13-3 marks in the regular season, especially with QB Drew Brees brought back for another go. As usual, GM Mickey Loomis has had to get creative with limited cap space, restructuring several contracts and backloading cap costs on several new deals. But Loomis had enough room to add WR Emmanuel Sanders, who had a positive impact with the 49ers last fall after a decorated career with the Broncos, and looking like a proper diversion for All-Pro Michael Thomas (no non-Thomas wideout caught more than 30 passes a year ago). Swapping out S Vonn Bell for vet Malcolm Jenkins (FA Eagles) could be an upgrade at the safety spot. Loomis has been doing all of this juggling while realizing he is going to have to address contract extensions for the likes of CB Marshon Lattimore, RB Alvin Kamara, and OT Ryan Ramczyk in the near future. And with Brees a year-to-year proposition at this point, and Teddy Bridgewater having departed for Carolina, Loomis and HC Sean Payton could also be looking for a developmental project at QB (Utah State’s Jordan Love perhaps?) with Taysom Hill currently the only cover behind Brees. Meanwhile, Dennis Allen’s D has some depth issues at the LB spots that can likely be addressed in the draft, with a focus on the inside. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

25-MINNESOTA VIKINGS... Though GM Rick Spielman might be tempted to go for an offensive weapon with one of his first-round picks (as we suggested in the 22nd slot), the bulk of the Vikings’ draft is likely to emphasize defense after shedding so much salary on the stop end (among those DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph, CBs Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes, and safeties Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo). If Speilman can at least identify a suitable replacement for the long-serving key cog Griffen in the draft, HC Mike Zimmer would be most appreciative before attention turns to re-stocking the secondary. Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State

26-MIAMI DOLPHINS (from Houston)... As noted, the Dolphins are flush with picks (this would be their third in the first round, among 14 overall selections as of early April), and after an active free agency period have already made several apparent upgrades, especially on the defensive end. With a new QB likely to have already been identified, GM Chris Grier might be tempted to bolster a suspect RB corps that has only added Jordan Howard (FA Eagles) after missing out on Todd Gurley. Though it has almost become taboo to nab a runner in the first round, Grier is likely to have his pick of the litter among those if he holds onto this position late in the first round. Plenty of Georgia RBs like D’Andre Swift have proven valuable NFL contributors in the past. This selection comes courtesy the Texans after the Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills trade at the end of preseason last August. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

27-SEATTLE SEAHAWKS... With DE Jadeveon Clowney still on the FA market into early April, there is a chance the Hawks could re-sign him and reduce the need to look for help on the defensive edge in the draft. But even with Clowney in the fold for much of last season, Seattle finished with only 28 sacks, tied for the second-fewest in the league. While that pass-rush need could still be addressed by re-signing Clowney, GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carroll were nonetheless active in the FA market as they took advantage of some legit cap space for the first time since coming out of the “Legion of Boom” era, with ex-Panthers TE Greg Olsen the highest-profile addition. A bit under-the-radar were several apparent useful signings to re-tool an OL that required much cap maneuvering, while trading for ex-Redskins CB Quinton Dunbar has addressed another need. Even if Clowney re-signs, however, it would be no surprise if the Hawks focus early upon more presence on the defensive edge. Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn

28-BALTIMORE RAVENS... Lost amid all of the post-Super Bowl Chiefs hysteria was the fact the Ravens were the “buzz” team entering the playoffs and indeed held the top seed in the AFC before getting rudely upended by the Titans in the Division Round. After leaks on the stop end were exposed by Derrick Henry & friends, upgrades along the defensive front have been addressed by GM Eric DeCosta, who added DE Calais Campbell in a trade with the Jags and signed FA DT Derek Wolfe from the Broncos. Campbell could come in particularly handy for a pass rush that generated a league-low 9 sacks from a four-man rush last fall. Franchising breakout OLB Matt Judon (team-best 9 ½ sacks last term) and re-inking vet CB Jimmy Smith kept a couple of key defensive cogs in the fold as well. While upgrading Lamar Jackson’s supporting cast on the attack end remains a draft objective, plugging in an extra key piece for the D to hopefully prevent another Henry-like trampling could command early-round attention. Patrick Queen, MLB, LSU

29-TENNESSEE TITANS... After being included in the Tom Brady rumor mill thanks to the connection with former teammate and current Titans HC Mike Vrabel, GM Jon Robinson decided that he had seen enough of Ryan Tannehill at QB down the stretch and deep into the playoffs to warrant a longer-term commitment while also making sure to secure RB Derrick Henry’s future in Nashville. Henry’s new deal was expected but time will tell if such an investment in Tannehill is a good bit of business after a bit more than a half-season of work. To re-sign both, however, Robinson had to shed some salary, which mostly came from a defense now without some key cogs such as DT Jurell Casey (traded to Broncos), LB Wesley Woodyard, and CB Logan Ryan, the latter two both still on the FA market. Somewhat limited in free agency by the dollars committed to Tannehill and Henry, Robinson’s main addition was edge rusher Vic Beasley from the Falcons, but more reinforcements are likely to be identified on the stop end, where seeking a replacement for Casey appears a priority. Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU

30-GREEN BAY PACKERS... With an eye toward next offseason when looking at contract extensions for many potential FAs-to-be (including RB Aaron Jones), GM Bran Gutekunst sought some less-expensive FA options at OT and ILB, where Bryan Bulaga (to the Chargers) and Blake Martinez (to the Giants), respectively, commanded big-money deals on the open market. To those ends, adding and ex-Lions RT Ricky Wagner and ex-Browns ILB Christian Kirksey as replacements on more team-friendly deals could be good business. What Gutekunst wasn’t able to do in free agency, however, was provided extra weapons for QB Aaron Rodgers, who co-existed much more peacefully with new HC Matt LaFleur last season than he did with predecessor Mike McCarthy. To stay on the good side of Rodgers, however, might require adding another receiving target to take some pressure off of Davante Adams. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

31-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS... In an enviable position with a pair of first-round picks after a Super Bowl visit, the Niners ought to be able to address their most significant departures after trading DT DeForest Buckner to the Colts (which returned the 13th selection in this draft) and WR Emmanuel Sanders leaving for the Saints in free agency. A deep crop of incoming wideouts should be able to provide several intriguing alternatives to fill the role of Sanders, while identifying reinforcements on the corner are likely to be addressed at some point in the draft with Richard Sherman entering the final season of his deal and Akhello Weatherspoon due to hit the market next year. Meanwhile GM John Lynch ponders a contract extension for George Kittle, who could re-set the market for the TE position. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

32-KANSAS CITY CHIEFS... Why change a winning formula? After their first Super Bowl win in 50 years, the Chiefs decided to try and keep the band together as much as possible for another run. To that end, GM Brett Veach and HC Andy Reid mostly sat out free agency, with much of the available dollars committed to the franchise tag on DT Chris Jones and keeping WR Sammy Watkins at a cost of $21 mill rather than taking a cap hit in the range of $7 mill. Releasing Watkins and allowing Jones to test the market could save about $30 mill, but after the highest-profile FAs have already moved, Veach and Reid are likely to do any further additions via the draft after inking only a handful of low-cost options in free agency. One position that might require some extra attention is on the corner, where Bashaud Breeland, who performed well in the Super Bowl drive, has opted to test the market. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah


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